SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 26: Daniel Suluka-Fifita of the Roosters is sent to the sin-bin by referee Ashley Klein during the round three NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters at Stadium Australia on March 26, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

NRL head of football Graham Annesley has dismissed criticism over the NRL's seemingly ever increasing use of the sin bin, claiming there has been no crackdown.

While consistency of its application remains a major issue for fans, Annesley, who has faced intense questioning on a number of issues already this year, defended the NRL's use of the punishment.

The sin bin was brought back to life in a big way during Magic Round last year, which saw a crackdown across the course of the weekend.

While that stance softened as the remainder of the season went on, this year has already seen a number of questionable sin bin decisions, while other offences have been allowed to go without.

Of particular note were a pair of sin bins to a trio of North Queensland Cowboys last weekend, as well as a "late tackle" during the St George Illawarra Dragons Round 2 loss to the Penrith Panthers, committed by Jaydn Su'A.

The impact of the sin bin has been well documented, with the Panthers running on 14 points against the Dragons during the ten minutes Su'A sat in the sin bin, while the Cowboys, who spent 30 minutes in total with 12 players on the park against the Roosters on Saturday evening, were well and truly thumped on the final scoreboard.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the current sin bin rate this year is 0.7 per game, which is exactly the same as last year on the whole, however, that doesn't take into account the Magic Round crackdown, when nine players were sin binned and three players were sent off in the same round.

Data reveals that there have been 20 sin bins across the first four rounds this year - the most in the last three years were when ten players were forced onto the sideline in 2020.

Despite that, Annesley said he believes it has been used properly.

“I’m not watching games going, ‘That’s not a sin bin,’” Annesley said.

“There are some where the decision could have gone either way, but that will always be the case. It’s not like there’s a crackdown or an order that more players need to go to the sin bin, we’re just continuing on from where we left off last year.”

Annesley said that while Magic Round saw a crackdown, what happened afterwards was "the norm" and it has simply continued into the new year.

“I agree, that if you look at the first four rounds last year and the first four rounds this year, that it’s higher,” Annesley said.

“However, that didn’t turn out to be the norm last year. What turned out to be the norm last year was what happened after Magic Round.

“If you look at the numbers that we had across last season compared to the numbers we’re currently tracking on, they are very similar. In some ways, it was the first part of the season last year that was the anomaly, not this year.”